The last five years have been challenging, volatile, disheartening, illuminating. I suspect few of us have emerged unscathed or otherwise unchanged. I used to be more centrist. I used to believe in bipartisanship as a realistic path forward. I used to talk about common-sense solutions with the optimism that this could resonate with people from a variety of political persuasions. I used to be more hesitant to say exactly what I think.
I am still optimistic—it’s my nature—but I have become less optimistic that tomorrow will be better than today. I also have become increasingly aware that the worst among us don’t care about sustaining the American democratic project. I see more clearly how virulent a strain of racism courses through American society, but also am more encouraged by how many decent people believe in equality. I am more outraged on a daily basis, but also more purposeful, urgent and realistic.
I also am more engaged with our democracy and more sure that its survival depends on not taking it for granted. So, too, I am more impatient to make a better America and more committed to motivating others to think hard and seek solutions to confront the realities of societal dysfunction and planetary crisis. I feel a greater need to hug my children and do what I can to spread kindness. Thankfully, I’m not more hard-hearted. I still believe empathy is crucial.
So how about you? How have you changed in these last five years? I hope you’ll include some ways you’ve changed for the better along with the inevitable scars. As always, I look forward to hearing what’s on your mind—and the opportunity for this community to learn from each other.
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Photo Credit: Charles Ommanney/The Washington Post via Getty Images, 2016.
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